Man, it should not be too difficult to rouse opposition tothis bill.
In the bill, rape is narrowly defined as forced or coerced genital or anal penetration. It utterly leaves out other acts, as well as the notion that sex without consent is also rape, as defined by numerous state laws and federal law. That is the more likely case in a prison, where a helpless inmate would be unlikely to resist the sexual overtures of a guard or interrogator.
The section on sexual abuse requires that the act include physical contact. Thus it might not include ordering a terrified female prisoner to strip and dance, which happened in Rwanda, or compelling a male prisoner to strip and wear women’s underwear on his head, or photographing naked prisoners piled together, both of which happened at Abu Ghraib.
Rhonda Copelon, a professor of law at the City University of New York who was an author of the international law on rape as a war crime, says the bill also could make it impossible to prosecute rape or sexual assault as torture, because the definition of torture in the legislation requires proof of specific intent to commit the crime. Motive is very hard to prove in cases of rape or sexual assault.
Experts on sexual violence fear that the intent is to absolve American soldiers and their commanders from prosecution for deeds that have occurred since Sept. 11. Ms. Copelon also points out that the United States has been trying for years to write a specific intent requirement into international law on torture. The co-authors of the bill, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, did not respond to questions about the section.